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"What do we know, what we don’t and what we cannot know so far about COVID-19: The case of Russia"

New article by A. Belianin (joint work with A. Shivarov) published in the Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy

Abstract: The paper surveys the Russian experience of COVID-19 pandemia over the two waves: April-May and October-December 2020. We discuss the implementation of the various policy measures, including hospital capacity buidling, quarantine restrictions and behavioral nudging, and compare their efficiency against social costs. The analysis of COVID-19 dynamics is much restricted by the quality of the available data, which remains poor for anumber of medical, statistical and political reasons. We argue that exogenous sources, such as the number ofinternet search queries related to COVID and excess mortality over the previous year, provide a more impartialpicture of the pandemia. Using panel data regression analysis, we find that both official COVID-19 casualties and excess mortality are correlated with internet queries and population density, but lower excess mortality onlyis also explained by the exogenous characteristics of healthcare system, such as the number of ambulance, staff and mean duration of hospital treatment. We conclude that better information and more diversified health policies are needed to fight the pandemia and its consequences.
Full article here.